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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
852 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2018 :  23:02:59  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What!!? An Ed Greenwood story that involves a random wizard showing up out of no where and blasting things or saving/harming people? :)

quote:
Too Many Princes - Ed Greenwood - a confusing, incoherent ramble that appears to be a Mirt story for about 90% of it. This is a younger, fitter Mirt battling against an oppressive wizard that seems to have his fingers in all levels of the local government. With about 3 pages to go, the Simbul shows up literally out
of nowhere and starts blasting people, killing the villain. A page later, Dove appears for no apparent reason and kills a few more minions, including a wizardess Mirt was sleeping with, who apparently was slain and replaced with an imposter months ago. There were more characters introduced in this story than there were pages, but they were all utterly disposable and I can't name a single one of them just 2 days later.

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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 22 Jul 2018 :  12:52:27  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished Shadowrealm last night. What an amazing trilogy, I'd say just a shade (see what I did there?) behind the Sojourner story, and I only say that because I didn't find the conclusion quite as satisfying. It was interesting to see how broken and detached Cale is becoming. It reminded me of Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen - as his power grew and grew he struggled to find any connection to humanity (both Cale and Dr. M) Both of them had their "grounds" to the world in the form of various people they cared about, but even those became more tenuous over time.

The Ephyrus chapter was amazing. His description of the dying world was poignant and powerful. Imagine for a second an area utterly devoid of all life, say... the size of your neighborhood - all living creatures destroyed; animals, plants, even down to the microbial level - and how sad that would be. Now multiply it by your town, your state, your country, your hemisphere, THE ENTIRE GLOBE - a complete cessation of nutrients, warmth, growth, LIFE. This is Shar's goal for the entire multiverse. Thankfully there are powers of life and renewal to check and counter her, but hey the bad guys have to win from time to time too, and it was an important (albeit depressing) chapter that was masterfully done. My only disagreement with this section was how the world was slowly falling apart with sinkholes opening up, but then started speeding up and was almost destroyed right as the protagonists claimed the Chalice and got out of there in the nick of time. Hmmm... how did the planet know those guys were on it just then? And what would've happened to the story if they showed up just a few hours later? That bit of movie tension/drama was unnecessary. I prefer Ephyras to succumb slowly, like the inexorable crash of waves against a cliff face eroding it over eons. That molasses-slow crumbling somehow seems more sad and devastating to me than a sudden fracturing and upheaval. It's just more.... Shar that way, I think.

I get a little bit frustrated by how similar the names Riven and Rivalen are. Not Kemp's fault, as Rivalen first appeared on the scene (to my knowledge anyway) in Denning's trilogy back in 2001, unless he was in a sourcebook or something prior to that. I found myself occasionally confusing the two if either name appeared early on in a chapter before it got established. Kemp himself crossed the names on page 185, where Brennus is in mental communication with Rivalen through his ring (after finding out Rivalen killed his mother) and writes "Brennus listened to the words, heard the hint of exaltation in his brother's tone, and seethed. He wished he could reach through the connection and choke Riven to death, hear his stilted, dying gasps, leave his corpse to end in nothingness with the rest of Ephyras." Oops! But it's easy to see why this happened. I have a similar pet peeve with Cormyr/Cormanthyr - though I imagine that one is easily traced back to some ancient elven etymology.

Abelar's fall and redemption was incredibly satisfying. I felt the inevitable pull of where it was going, but still found myself holding my breath in those final moments. Tamlin's arc was also fun to read, albeit for much different reasons. He's such a little twit, I found it amusing to see him get played so easily by the Tanthul brothers.

I was surprised by Mask's subservience to Shar and how connected those deities are. I also didn't love how Cale, Riven, AND Rivalen were able to drink from the Chalice and split the essence of stolen godhood. Cale's sacrifice also didn't hit home with me as powerfully as I expected it to. As magnificent as this entire trilogy has been, I found the ending left me just a tad unsatisfied, though I can't put my finger on or define exactly why I felt that way. The 100 year fast-forward to the Spellplague era in the epilogue was a bit jarring, though it looks like he's setting the scene for the child of Erevis and Varra. I just took a peak at his wiki page and see that he's just about done with FR books (which makes me incredibly sad), except for a 2013 offering titled The Godborn.

But I won't get to that for a VERY long time, so I have to put these thoughts on hold. I think Kemp is one of the very few authors I will follow outside of the D&D worlds once I'm done with this massive project. Has anyone read his Egil and Nix books? Recommend? Up next; I'm supposed to start the Lady Penitent trilogy, but I just couldn't find the will to do that, so I'm going with the first of the standalone "Dungeons" books: Depths of Madness.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 22 Jul 2018 12:59:56
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 22 Jul 2018 :  13:22:02  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Depths of Madness" sees the come back of one of my FR female characters, "Fox-at-Twilight"; I have a fond memory of it. Hope you enjoy.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 22 Jul 2018 :  13:40:04  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As for LP, when I read it, I already knew what happened in that series and the reason it had been written. I didn't want to read it, but I forced myself to. Honestly, it was a painful read (not because of the writing, but because I had to see something I hold very dear warped to utter unlikability) and I regret doing that.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 22 Jul 2018 13:44:01
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
852 Posts

Posted - 22 Jul 2018 :  19:34:52  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Aww I can't wait for you to get into LP because I think the chat around it will be very fun to read!
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5280 Posts

Posted - 23 Jul 2018 :  02:40:25  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

Sarshel is in impiltur and is named after a prominent figure in its history. I'm sure George Krashos will be along at some point to provide exact location and historical details.



No need. Although the tale does support my view that the war against the hobgoblins in 1095 DR was a massive campaign ala the Fall of Myth Drannor, not just a couple of battles.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Firestorm
Senior Scribe

Canada
804 Posts

Posted - 28 Jul 2018 :  20:52:43  Show Profile Send Firestorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I finished Shadowrealm last night. What an amazing trilogy, I'd say just a shade (see what I did there?) behind the Sojourner story, and I only say that because I didn't find the conclusion quite as satisfying. It was interesting to see how broken and detached Cale is becoming. It reminded me of Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen - as his power grew and grew he struggled to find any connection to humanity (both Cale and Dr. M) Both of them had their "grounds" to the world in the form of various people they cared about, but even those became more tenuous over time.

The Ephyrus chapter was amazing. His description of the dying world was poignant and powerful. Imagine for a second an area utterly devoid of all life, say... the size of your neighborhood - all living creatures destroyed; animals, plants, even down to the microbial level - and how sad that would be. Now multiply it by your town, your state, your country, your hemisphere, THE ENTIRE GLOBE - a complete cessation of nutrients, warmth, growth, LIFE. This is Shar's goal for the entire multiverse. Thankfully there are powers of life and renewal to check and counter her, but hey the bad guys have to win from time to time too, and it was an important (albeit depressing) chapter that was masterfully done. My only disagreement with this section was how the world was slowly falling apart with sinkholes opening up, but then started speeding up and was almost destroyed right as the protagonists claimed the Chalice and got out of there in the nick of time. Hmmm... how did the planet know those guys were on it just then? And what would've happened to the story if they showed up just a few hours later? That bit of movie tension/drama was unnecessary. I prefer Ephyras to succumb slowly, like the inexorable crash of waves against a cliff face eroding it over eons. That molasses-slow crumbling somehow seems more sad and devastating to me than a sudden fracturing and upheaval. It's just more.... Shar that way, I think.

I get a little bit frustrated by how similar the names Riven and Rivalen are. Not Kemp's fault, as Rivalen first appeared on the scene (to my knowledge anyway) in Denning's trilogy back in 2001, unless he was in a sourcebook or something prior to that. I found myself occasionally confusing the two if either name appeared early on in a chapter before it got established. Kemp himself crossed the names on page 185, where Brennus is in mental communication with Rivalen through his ring (after finding out Rivalen killed his mother) and writes "Brennus listened to the words, heard the hint of exaltation in his brother's tone, and seethed. He wished he could reach through the connection and choke Riven to death, hear his stilted, dying gasps, leave his corpse to end in nothingness with the rest of Ephyras." Oops! But it's easy to see why this happened. I have a similar pet peeve with Cormyr/Cormanthyr - though I imagine that one is easily traced back to some ancient elven etymology.

Abelar's fall and redemption was incredibly satisfying. I felt the inevitable pull of where it was going, but still found myself holding my breath in those final moments. Tamlin's arc was also fun to read, albeit for much different reasons. He's such a little twit, I found it amusing to see him get played so easily by the Tanthul brothers.

I was surprised by Mask's subservience to Shar and how connected those deities are. I also didn't love how Cale, Riven, AND Rivalen were able to drink from the Chalice and split the essence of stolen godhood. Cale's sacrifice also didn't hit home with me as powerfully as I expected it to. As magnificent as this entire trilogy has been, I found the ending left me just a tad unsatisfied, though I can't put my finger on or define exactly why I felt that way. The 100 year fast-forward to the Spellplague era in the epilogue was a bit jarring, though it looks like he's setting the scene for the child of Erevis and Varra. I just took a peak at his wiki page and see that he's just about done with FR books (which makes me incredibly sad), except for a 2013 offering titled The Godborn.

But I won't get to that for a VERY long time, so I have to put these thoughts on hold. I think Kemp is one of the very few authors I will follow outside of the D&D worlds once I'm done with this massive project. Has anyone read his Egil and Nix books? Recommend? Up next; I'm supposed to start the Lady Penitent trilogy, but I just couldn't find the will to do that, so I'm going with the first of the standalone "Dungeons" books: Depths of Madness.



Shame you have to wait so long lol.

Godborn was originally supposed to be a trilogy with titles: godborn, Godbound, and Godslayer

It got condensed into 1 book to fit into the "New realms" thing they were trying to do with the 5th Edition reboot and Paul was game for it as I recall, but it made that book feel rushed. But as with all things WOTC, they changed management every 4 months and new managers scrapped a bunch of things and refused to pay industry minimum wage standard to the authors, so a lot of the best authors left.
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 29 Jul 2018 :  21:55:04  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Depths of Madness was a mixed bag for me. I didn't like how so many characters were thrown at me from the get-go. First there was Twilight's original party that got wiped out just as I was learning them. Then she starts freeing a bunch of people from cells and builds an entirely new party. Just when I'm starting to feel them out, Taslin and Asson get killed. Also, much like my criticism of the RAS novel Promise of the Witch King, this story features almost entirely around the adventuring group with only a handful of tiny cutaways to the villain's PoV. This tends to bore me after awhile and makes the book read more like a D&D module than an actual novel.

Here's a self-quote from a short story by Erik Scott de Bie I made a while back: "The Greater Treasure - Erik Scott de Bie - I'm still getting used to this author, I think I've only read one other short by him thus far. He seems to really enjoy word play and clever phrasing. At times I smile and mentally congratulate him on some witticism or another. At other times I find it a bit smug :P" I stand by that assessment and find more of it in this book, so it's definitely his signature. I don't find it unbearable or anything, but it does come off a bit too cheeky at times, particularly for a story titled Depths of Madness and the overall tone.

Speaking of which, there were some excellent horror elements within. The creepy doll and bloody handprints were a nice touch, the slow but seemingly inexorable descent into insanity was fun to note the progress of. The dungeon setting of Negorath itself was a fairly interesting concept, particularly how it kept pulling in adventurers from various portals that were supposed to lead elsewhere - it had a bit of a "Saw" feel, as these disparate strangers are all thrust together into a high-pressure situation where they can ill-afford party infighting and distrust. There were some weird, random hook-ups in this book, particularly Twilight and Taslin. As for Twilight... sorry Irennan, she just doesn't do a whole lot for me as a character. I find her to be overly maudlin and mopey. And how many times does the author need to remind me that she's been burned in the past and now she trusts no one. Ok, I get it already, her life has been a huge crap-snack. Her connection to Erevan was only played around with, I thought there was much more room for development there. Also, not being super familiar with that deity and knowing "Chameleon" is his nickname made for some confusion. I was similarly unsure of Gestal/Lord Divergence, thinking they were two separate characters for a portion of the book. The demon-stitched troll was an awesome concept, though his stupidity was a bit overplayed for laughs. All in all I think the story was a bit murky. I'd have liked to see a little less snark and a little more clarity/exposition. Nice twist at the end though with Slip, I thought that was well-done.

Up next, well the LP trilogy is really staring me in the face, so I suppose I should just get that going. But I'm not going to (so sorry, Seravin!) Instead I'll put it off with one more quick diversion. I've started The Best of the Realms III: the Stories of Elaine Cunningham. This should be a fast read, as there are 3 new stories, the rest being reprints from other anthologies. So I should be able to knock this out in a day or two, maybe slightly longer if there's new commentary at the beginning of each entry.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 29 Jul 2018 21:57:00
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  01:35:55  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No bosses at work today so I finished Best of the Realms III. There was actually a bit more to read than I had thought, as there were 2 or 3 entries that had appeared previously in Dragon Magazine that I hadn't encountered. Also there were entertaining commentaries in the beginning of all the stories, so I read those, even for the stories I had already read from other anthologies. Some random thoughts/comments:

The Knights of Samular - I found the story to be only so-so, but the opening comments were very interesting. Remember back when we were discussing Thornhold and how there were several loose ends? Well it turns out Elaine was under direction to purposely write the story in that manner, to be a "jumping off point" for other stories and authors to take from there. Well, as usual, editorial directives change and that never really materialized quite the way they envisioned. I recall in my commentary stating that I thought Algorind got a bit of a raw deal, being somewhat unfairly vilified for his actions, which were largely manipulated by others. Another poster told me not to worry overmuch, as he would get a bit of vindication in a future short story, and that was true. Other than that this story didn't stand out to me a whole lot. I'm curious... I don't remember if anyone in the Thornhold novel put A+B together and noticed the young woman named Cara Doon had a name so (not coincidentally) similar to the surname (Caradoon) of the original knight.

The Great Hunt - really good story about a clan of Malarites out on the prowl and facing off against Arilyn and Elaith. Craulnober utilizes some rarely seen magic in an absolutely brilliant deception. Liked this one a lot. Was I supposed to know who the big, burly northwoman was that tried to make a stand with Arilyn but got cut down?

Stolen Dreams - interesting way to take a previous short story and re-tell it from a different PoV. Wow, did Sophie learn how to be an arrogant, entitled noblewoman really quickly!

Possessions - a moody, haunting tale of Noor (from the Halruua trilogy) and her relationship with Akhlaur, the laraken, etc. Dark, but very entertaining.

Games of Chance - hated the premise of a mechanical device able to alter magical fields. I don't like mixing tech and magic, just a personal bias. If I could somehow ignore that (which I absolutely cannot), I'd have liked this story, as it is about Craulnober pulling out all the stops to create more favorable conditions for his family line. Also Elaine's commentary in the beginning explained a question that's been brewing in my mind for... I don't know how long: the names of Elaith and Elaine having no relation other than incredible coincidence.

Tribute - a cute, probably apocryphal folktale of how the residents of the proto-village that would eventually become Waterdeep finally fended off a dragon that had demanded human sacrifice from them. If I can nitpick just a bit... Tiamut?

Answered Prayers - interesting story. I very much enjoy tales that show the downside of resurrection. We've talked about it more than once, the fact that high level spells can steal so much drama from a fantasy world - but here we see why bringing someone back from the dead is actually against the best interests of the recipient, particularly if they've finally found some kind of rest, joy, or at least contentment in their afterlife. It makes the spell out to be more of a selfish act from the caster than a boon for the one being restored. Also some interesting philosophical fodder about the nature of gods and just how much they attempt to steer mortals. Good tale.

Lastly, this book had at least two references to something called Reclamation though that doesn't appear on any of my lists nor on Elaine's Wikipedia page. A cancelled novel? Was it finished and simply not published, or was it merely a concept project that never got greenlit? I MUST KNOW MOAR!!

Quick tangent - after looking at her complete list of works, I see something called The Blood Red Harp set in the world of the MMORPG Everquest. Holy crap, I practically LIVED in Norrath for most of my late teens and early twenties, I was so hooked on that game. I think I'll have to track down a copy of this simply because it combines two of my favorite fantasy elements - Everquest and Elaine Cunningham.

Up next.... oh man I really need to start that Lady Penitent trilogy. It's sitting on the top shelf, just staring me down, daring me to crack it open. I should do it, for Seravin's sake if nothing else.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 31 Jul 2018 01:38:56
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  02:27:20  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Before you read LP, since Eilistraee means really a lot to me, and since I respect your opinion about the Realms book and characters, I feel compelled to warn you that Smedman's version of Eilistraee is not a good or accurate portrayal of her, not even remotely. The LP books are full of lore gaffes: from minutiae, to total contradiction of canon, to the drastic warping of characters.

Eilistraee is a prime example. During the course of the trilogy, it felt like the author went to lengths just to snipe certain parts of lore about Eilistraee and warp them to unlikability. This trend started back in WotSQ 4: for example, Eilistraeeans are welcoming and accepting? Smedman has males effing mutilated just for daring to watch a dance (which is just twisted, flat out evil, not to mention absolutely false). Eilistraeeans in Velarswood are friendly with the Selune worshiping lycanthropes in canon? Nope, Smedman has them mindlessly killing every lycanthrope and making an effing trophy tree like Malarites, etc... This trend picks up again in LP.

In general, her goal and ideal of redemption is distorted and turned into something that is IMO gross, and that has never belonged to her in over 20+ years (IRL)/30k+ years (and goes against what she actually stands for--but that happens later in the series). Her ideals are distorted too, and the metaphor used by the author to describe her involvement in the events of the novels is so antithetical to her it hurts (like, it directly contradicts the lore about her approach to the drow, while also stripping mortals of initiative--in these novels, the premise is to fight for the "control" of the drow, when she is known to strive for the drow to be free to find their path, and to be subtle and careful to avoid imposing anything on them).

Her whole church is associated with some really unlikable and quite disgusting stuff: bullying, exploiting a kid by sending him to his obvious doom (when, in truth, one of the main activities at the Promenade is freeing slaves and children taken prisoners), forcing people to convert before healing them (which is outright false and act of tyranny, that both Eilistraee and her followers simply hate. Eilistraee is in fact known to even personally help creatures who are not her followers—as do her priestesses--she has even declined followers in the past unless their faith was actually felt—see Evermeet, etc). There's also this obsession on Smedman's part to portray the Eilistraeeans as basically reskinned Lolthites, who are all out misandrists—not even just sexist, mind, misandrists. I mean, they are a "matriarchy" (the hierarchy is very loose among the Eilistraeeans anyway), true, and that's cool—I actually like it. However, it is a good kind of matriarchy, where the priestesses are to be an extension of Eilistraee's role of nurturing mother for the drow, and males can expect to be treated kindly and equally (and the word of those who show expertise in a given field carry a lot of weight when decisions are to be taken in that regard).

There are also mistakes in the depiction of their rituals and organization, all painting them under a bad light--for example, Eilistraeeans have no real hierarchy and see "higher ups" more like elder sisters? In the series, Smedman has many priestesses caring a lot about being obeyed. The Evensong, the most meaningful and intimate ritual of the followers of Eilistraee, is turned into some chorus and males are banned from it.

The Dark Maiden and her followers are also very militaristic and quite merciless in Smedman's books. They should be strong on compassion, on the possibility of change--it's such a huge part of their theme--yet those books only focus on them going around trying to kill stuff.

The argument of "but they have the baggage of centuries of living under Lolth" doesn't make sense in this case, because converts only make a part of the followers of Eilistraee, the rest were born on the surface and have a very different background (like the protagonist, who paradoxically is the most abusive of them all). The old-timers and the non-converts display the exact same trait that you would expect from a Lolthitie-lite.

That's just a Smedman/Athans thing. The one good matriarchy (aside from the wychlaran) gets turned into a bunch of warlike, merciless misandrists. Once again, this portrayal is extended to all followers (or nearly), not just a few groups here and there. The main character being abusive doesn't help either.

Then again, the novels were (admittedly) commissioned to apply 4e changes to the drow, not even the author liked the changes, and—since these novels get no continuation, not even a passing mention in anything—I'll say to you without spoilers that they bear absolutely no weight on the Realms. All that happens in those books gets reversed, and one particular event that happened gets treated as if it had never happened. Even if it makes sense in-world for that event to be forgotten, it was essentially retconned. Overall, those books might as well have never been written.

In short, don't take these books as an accurate portrayal of the drow gods, especially of Eilistraee, unless you prefer the version in which she basically is Lolth-lite (really, I may be looking at this with jaded eyes, but I'm not sure that Smedman associates any positive traits to them without polluting those traits in some way).

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 31 Jul 2018 03:10:14
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Demzer
Senior Scribe

652 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  08:55:37  Show Profile Send Demzer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

good stuff about Eilistraee



Nonsense! Gods are ebil!!11!!! This ONE series says it so it is thus and so!

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

... The one good matriarchy (aside from the wychlaran) ...



This is just anti-Thayvian propaganda. Rashemen is a racist, xenophobic s**t-hole with a close minded society full of disparities, internment camps for male spellcasters and an elite caste keeping everyone else in check through intimidation, magical manipulation and outright murder.

Oh, but they're sexy chicks with masks so it's good! Gotcha ...

Sorry for the intermission, looking forward to your next reviews VikingLegion!
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  10:56:09  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hey, I never supported the "gods" are ebil" thingy (both in this thread and other ones). This case is also extreme because it extends to the whole faith and even known characters.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 31 Jul 2018 13:25:14
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Demzer
Senior Scribe

652 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  14:13:07  Show Profile Send Demzer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Hey, I never supported the "gods" are ebil" thingy (both in this thread and other ones). This case is also extreme because it extends to the whole faith and even known characters.



Sorry, I was making fun of the political stance of others on godly matters around these halls. It was a (failed it seems) attempt at being sarcastic.

I completely agree with what you wrote up until the wychlaran part.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  14:34:10  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, it was my mistake, should have seen it

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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Mirtek
Senior Scribe

532 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  22:51:36  Show Profile Send Mirtek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Lastly, this book had at least two references to something called Reclamation though that doesn't appear on any of my lists nor on Elaine's Wikipedia page. A cancelled novel? Was it finished and simply not published, or was it merely a concept project that never got greenlit? I MUST KNOW MOAR!!
Here you go:

What it might have been:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1707264.Reclamation

What unfortunately happened:
http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10898


Edited by - Mirtek on 31 Jul 2018 22:53:12
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2018 :  23:11:58  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Elaine posted one snippet of that story at some point here, I'll see if I can find it.

EDIT: Elaine did indeed post a few reclamation chapters a couple years ago, but they seem to have been taken down.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 01 Aug 2018 00:28:00
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2328 Posts

Posted - 02 Aug 2018 :  15:16:07  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion


Lastly, this book had at least two references to something called Reclamation though that doesn't appear on any of my lists nor on Elaine's Wikipedia page. A cancelled novel? Was it finished and simply not published, or was it merely a concept project that never got greenlit? I MUST KNOW MOAR!!


Reclamation was intended to wrap up the Songs & Swords series. It picked up right after the events of The Dreamspheres and answered a number of questions posed by the series to date. The novel was contracted, outlined, and partially written. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it due to a long period of ill health. The folks at WotC worked with me on this as long as they could, but the Realms moved on with the Spellplague and 5E.


quote:
Quick tangent - after looking at her complete list of works, I see something called The Blood Red Harp set in the world of the MMORPG Everquest. Holy crap, I practically LIVED in Norrath for most of my late teens and early twenties, I was so hooked on that game.


I think you might like this story. The project was ill-fated and the book got no promotion and very little distribution, but I think it's one of my better early novels. Gamers seemed to think that it got the world right. I did a lot of research, of course, but found the actual video game the most difficult part of it. I truly, deeply suck at video games. As in, repeatedly getting lost during the tutorial and falling off the platform of the elven tree city. My son Sean, who was a competative first-person-shooter gamer, observed this over my shoulder and murmurred in awe, "How is that even POSSIBLE?" I had to have him create some high-level characters for me so I could explore the world without getting killed by bumblebees. Good times.

Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 02 Aug 2018 15:18:12
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 04 Aug 2018 :  21:52:14  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Before you read LP, since Eilistraee means really a lot to me, and since I respect your opinion about the Realms book and characters, I feel compelled to warn you that Smedman's version of Eilistraee is not a good or accurate portrayal of her, not even remotely. The LP books are full of lore gaffes: from minutiae, to total contradiction of canon, to the drastic warping of characters.



Irennan,

Why do you think I'm so reluctant to read this trilogy and keep bypassing it for other books? :)

I recall, while reading/reviewing the WoTSQ series, being very confused by the depiction of the Eilistraeen faith. They seemed so angry, so militaristic (to the point of expansionism), so misandristic. I thought maybe I just didn't know the lore well enough and my idea of what Eilistraee stood for was way off. You were the one that chimed in back then to let me know my instincts were correct and that Smedman horribly misrepresented them. You were very eloquent in your defense of Eilistraee, citing several examples (as you have here) of just how wrong she got the lore. This might sound odd, but your name is now inextricably linked with Eilistraee for me. Weird? Even though I wouldn't know you if I bumped into you on the street, I literally think of your username whenever I see a reference to the Dark Maiden.

After you set me straight I had a hard time reconciling that book and the Athans follow-up. I had to make up some head-canon that they were simply a splinter-cell of the main faith, one that went rotten over the years and embraced a more angry side of the faith. With your comments on the LP trilogy, I think I will go one step further and treat the entire story as one big pile of apocrypha - much like the Double Diamond Triangle series, just a story made up (in-world) that is outright false, bad propaganda, or a smear campaign. Especially since it will have no lasting effect and essentially gets wiped out by the edition change, I can go into it with a feeling of skepticism. Honestly I don't even want to read it at all, other than to satisfy my need for completion.

Again, your comments are very appreciated, and I hope we can have a bit of fun eviscerating the LP trilogy for its ghastly errors.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 04 Aug 2018 22:34:02
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 04 Aug 2018 :  22:32:08  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ElaineCunningham
Reclamation was intended to wrap up the Songs & Swords series. It picked up right after the events of The Dreamspheres and answered a number of questions posed by the series to date. The novel was contracted, outlined, and partially written. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it due to a long period of ill health. The folks at WotC worked with me on this as long as they could, but the Realms moved on with the Spellplague and 5E.


I'm sorry if that dredged up any bad memories for you. I just got done reading the links that Mirtek provided a couple posts up and now understand more of the behind-the-scenes info regarding Reclamation and what looked to be a tough stage of your life. I probably should've done a bit of research on my own instead of taking the lazy way out. I apologize if that felt like picking at an old scar.

quote:

I think you might like this story. The project was ill-fated and the book got no promotion and very little distribution, but I think it's one of my better early novels. Gamers seemed to think that it got the world right. I did a lot of research, of course, but found the actual video game the most difficult part of it. I truly, deeply suck at video games. As in, repeatedly getting lost during the tutorial and falling off the platform of the elven tree city. My son Sean, who was a competative first-person-shooter gamer, observed this over my shoulder and murmurred in awe, "How is that even POSSIBLE?" I had to have him create some high-level characters for me so I could explore the world without getting killed by bumblebees. Good times.



Don't beat yourself up too badly, EVERYONE falls off the bridges of Kelethin (the wood-elf tree city) at some point in their Everquest career. It mostly happens to low-level characters who are multitasking and raising their Alcohol Tolerance skill while completing other missions! That story of your son being awestruck by your, ahem... utter lack of gaming skill... brought a smile to my face, similar to when I watch my wife play God of War :)

I just ordered a copy of Blood Red Harp for about $6. I was thrilled to see that Castle Mistmoore is involved in the story. I will probably squee in fanboy delight if Mayong himself makes an appearance. Just for the hell of it I also ordered a copy of Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch because, well... this brings me to a point I don't want to bring up, but:

After writing the previous review of Best of the Realms III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham, it dawned on me that this will be the final time I read one of your Realms novels (not counting future re-reads, of course), and that makes me unhappy. I've really grown to love Kemp's works, and highly enjoy Byers, Baker, Salvatore, etc., but facing another ~10 years worth of published novels on my list and knowing not a one of them is an EC, that has me down a bit. Your contributions to this very thread have been one of my favorite parts about sustaining it, and I hope you continue to chime in from time to time, though I would totally understand if your interest in it wanes as we move on to the books of 2008 and beyond.

Edited by - VikingLegion on 04 Aug 2018 22:37:15
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 05 Aug 2018 :  02:15:01  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Before you read LP, since Eilistraee means really a lot to me, and since I respect your opinion about the Realms book and characters, I feel compelled to warn you that Smedman's version of Eilistraee is not a good or accurate portrayal of her, not even remotely. The LP books are full of lore gaffes: from minutiae, to total contradiction of canon, to the drastic warping of characters.



Irennan,

Why do you think I'm so reluctant to read this trilogy and keep bypassing it for other books? :)


I've been very open about the nature of the books here (and elsewhere), but I'm not the only one to point the mistakes out, so I thought that it was a combination of influences.

quote:
I recall, while reading/reviewing the WoTSQ series, being very confused by the depiction of the Eilistraeen faith. They seemed so angry, so militaristic (to the point of expansionism), so misandristic. I thought maybe I just didn't know the lore well enough and my idea of what Eilistraee stood for was way off. You were the one that chimed in back then to let me know my instincts were correct and that Smedman horribly misrepresented them. You were very eloquent in your defense of Eilistraee, citing several examples (as you have here) of just how wrong she got the lore. This might sound odd, but your name is now inextricably linked with Eilistraee for me. Weird? Even though I wouldn't know you if I bumped into you on the street, I literally think of your username whenever I see a reference to the Dark Maiden.


The last part is quite funny indeed, but it also makes me smile a bit.

quote:
After you set me straight I had a hard time reconciling that book and the Athans follow-up. I had to make up some head-canon that they were simply a splinter-cell of the main faith, one that went rotten over the years and embraced a more angry side of the faith. With your comments on the LP trilogy, I think I will go one step further and treat the entire story as one big pile of apocrypha - much like the Double Diamond Triangle series, just a story made up (in-world) that is outright false, bad propaganda, or a smear campaign. Especially since it will have no lasting effect and essentially gets wiped out by the edition change, I can go into it with a feeling of skepticism. Honestly I don't even want to read it at all, other than to satisfy my need for completion.

Again, your comments are very appreciated, and I hope we can have a bit of fun eviscerating the LP trilogy for its ghastly errors.



At this point, it might very well be an apocrypha. WotC completely ignored those books, except when they reversed them (and even then, they basically pretended that they had never happened).

I feel sorry to have ruined your possible enjoyment of the books, but on the other hand, I'm glad that you don't see Smedman's portrayal of Eilistraee as believable.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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ElaineCunningham
Forgotten Realms Author

2328 Posts

Posted - 07 Aug 2018 :  14:26:59  Show Profile  Visit ElaineCunningham's Homepage Send ElaineCunningham a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

I'm sorry if that dredged up any bad memories for you.



No worries. As a reader, I invest a considerable amount of time and energy into certain series, and if a series were to suddenly come to a stop, I would like to know why. So as a writer, I don't mind answering the sort of question that Reader Me would like to ask.



quote:
After writing the previous review of Best of the Realms III: The Stories of Elaine Cunningham, it dawned on me that this will be the final time I read one of your Realms novels (not counting future re-reads, of course), and that makes me unhappy. I've really grown to love Kemp's works, and highly enjoy Byers, Baker, Salvatore, etc., but facing another ~10 years worth of published novels on my list and knowing not a one of them is an EC, that has me down a bit. Your contributions to this very thread have been one of my favorite parts about sustaining it, and I hope you continue to chime in from time to time, though I would totally understand if your interest in it wanes as we move on to the books of 2008 and beyond.



Thank you for this. That's very kind. I wish I'd kept writing FR novels during the last 10 years of their publication, but unless I get a Tardis for my upcoming birthday, that situation is likely to remain unchanged. Alas.

Edited by - ElaineCunningham on 07 Aug 2018 14:27:31
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 11 Aug 2018 :  13:47:35  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
Up next.... oh man I really need to start that Lady Penitent trilogy. It's sitting on the top shelf, just staring me down, daring me to crack it open. I should do it, for Seravin's sake if nothing else.


And... I finished book 2 of the standalone Dungeons series: The Howling Delve.

I recall commenting on this writer after reading one of the previous anthologies, it was Realms of the Dragons II in which we were introduced to several newcomer authors. Overall it was a decent collection of shorts, but I remember specifically mentioning Jaleigh Johnson's story as the one that stood out to me above the rest from a quality and style standpoint. It was no fluke, she's definitely "an exceptionally talented storyteller" in Elaine Cunningham's words.

The relationship between Kall and Aazen was extremely well done. I also really liked the way she described Meisha's innate sorcerous mastery over fire. The dungeon itself is an ancient, abandoned dwarfhold that also served as a prison for a demonic presence. I don't have a whole lot more to add specifically, my notes for this one were incredibly sparse. I guess that means I just enjoyed it as a smooth page-turner and didn't get sidetracked much. Good story overall.

Up next... I don't know... maybe it's time to bite the bullet and finally get to that Lady Penitent Trilogy.
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Seravin
Senior Scribe

Canada
852 Posts

Posted - 12 Aug 2018 :  08:56:41  Show Profile Send Seravin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hurrah!
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VikingLegion
Senior Scribe

USA
357 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  01:26:40  Show Profile Send VikingLegion a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finished book 1 of the LP trilogy; Sacrifice of the Widow. Right there on page ONE Eilistraee is introduced as a goddess of kindness and light. And then her followers proceed to act in a way that is anything but indicative of either of those things, as Irennan has already amply displayed.

I had a way of dealing with this, of reconciling it, that was working for several portions of the book. See, I view the various faiths of Faerun not unlike our own world's various political parties: all of them think they, and they alone, know the sole way of living a good life; and all of them, to some degree or another, engage in disinformation and smear tactics against rivals. So when Q'arlynd mentions how males can't participate in the dance or become priests (only lay followers), perhaps that's just what he was led to believe growing up in Ched Nessad. Or when Szorak, a follower of Vhaeraun, thinks the following:

"Vhaeraun might have united all of the darkelves under a single deity millenia ago, but Eilistraee had proved as greedy as Lolth and had stolen the females away from the Masked Lord's worship. She'd taught them to exclude males from their circle, to subjugate and revile them instead."

Maybe that is simply his perspective on the matter, the viewpoint he was indoctrinated with in order to generate anger towards a rival faith.

This angle was working for me for awhile. Until I saw more and more of the Eilistraeens in the Promenade and how they were acting pretty much exactly in the manner the Nightshades thought they would. Actually probably a bit worse. They were awful. Arrogant, vindictive, little better than Lolthites. Cavatina was the worst offender. I tried to tell myself she's simply a bad apple, an incredibly conceited and zealous follower that takes her faith to a dangerous extreme (every group has 'em). She was described as being "vain, as proud as any Matron Mother." And even though she was the most egregious of the bunch, she was far from the only one acting in that manner. My ability to handwave away the terrible depiction of this faith crumbled as example after example kept pouring in.

But curiously enough, and probably because we've discussed it in great detail beforehand, I was still able to get some enjoyment from this book. Our ripping of Smedman's innacurate depiction of Eilistraee's faith probably inured me to how bad it is. And since I was prepared for it, I was able to focus on other aspects of the book, which was fairly well written. I enjoyed her House of Serpents trilogy, and this book had a similar quality of decently interesting characters, a good mix of action and dialogue, a great many elements of the surrounding world incorporated in. In short, it was pretty good as long as you can reconcile her butchering of everything Eilistraee stands for. Also, Halistraa (who I despise utterly) wasn't featured nearly as prominently as I feared she would be.

Up next, it hasn't driven me mad yet, so I'll continue on with this series in book 2: Storm of the Dead.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2983 Posts

Posted - 14 Aug 2018 :  01:40:35  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Book 2 introduces a concept that I have a deep dislike of (and that was thankfully undone), as if Smedman's mistakes alone weren't enough mud thrown on Eilistraee. As for book 1, not only its portrayal of Eilistraee was crap, but it also removed one of the most interesting deities, Vhaeraun (and Selvetarm too, his relationship with Eilistraee&Vhaeraun had so much potential--still has, since he's back alongside Vhaeraun and all else--and they squander him like that? I think you can see where this series is going), by having him act massively out of character as well. First off, Vhaeraun is explicitly stated to be more than willing to put divergencies aside when it comes to dealing with Lolth, yet the first thing he does is... squandering resources against his sister? Secondly, his plan was outright ridiculous. Attack her on her own home realm? Where she can spot anything and anyone immediately. A Realm that is located on the borders of Arvandor, where the entire Seldarine reside, and from where they can assist Eilistraee in a heartbeat? Really? This was Vhaeraun's master plan? Ed Greenwood provided some lore to clarify on this, and of Eilistraee's lack of mercy for his brother (in fact, in her lore it is said that she doesn't hate Vhaeraun, but simply mourns his selfishness and cruelty), but I'll give you the gist of it after you're done with all 3 books.

I disliked Cavatina as a character. Smedman had to go for the hyper-zealous fanatic cliché, in a faith that has freedom, compassion, celebration of beauty as its main points. Also, she has basically no development: she starts the story as an abusive little s**t, and remains so for the rest of the series. She also completely misses the point of her own faith. She came off as obsessed with some kind of redemption, and I really don't know what she has to redeem for (aside from being an abusive little s**t, that is), being her born an EIlistraeean, on the surface? I mean, that completely misses the point of Eilistraee (then again, everything in those book does). I guess that's Semdman's weird idea of redemption.

More nonsense (general and Eilistraee-focused) will come in Storm of the Dead, alongside a plot hole as huge as a star.

-------------------

PS: As far as metaphors go, Eilistraee playing chess using her followers as pawns is the most awful kind of metaphor that Smedman could have used for this goddess. Her whole point is helping the drow open their hearts and rediscover (and embrace) what was taken away from them, to break their chains. Eilistraee accompanies them through this quest, she helps them in practical ways like a mother would, but she is always subtle, delicate, extremely careful to never force a choice on her people, because she wants them to find their own path. Here, she comes across as someone who moves her followers around like expendable pawns.

That said, on a side note, the game itself wasn't real, otherwise the books would have major issues. For example, Selvetarm was still sitting at the table after being killed; and the game was generally logically incosistent except as a metaphor. In fact--since the actions of the mortals were supposedly represented on the board--either the moves in the game determined what happened, or the actions of the mortals did. In the first case, what the mortals did--and therefore the whole 3 novels--reflected by the pieces moving on the board, would have been pointless, since the result would have been decided by the game, no matter what had happened on the Prime. OTOH, in the second case, with the mortals' actions determining their own outcome but still being reflected in the game, then the only possibility was that moves on the board became possible only after the equivalent thing had happened on the Prime, and the game would have been pointless except as a metaphor, since the various moves would have been just representations of what happened in the world.

Also, no one with half a brain would ever accept to play by Lolth's rules, especially when they could have continued doing their thing against her without bending to her conditions.

----------------------------------

quote:
"Vhaeraun might have united all of the darkelves under a single deity millenia ago, but Eilistraee had proved as greedy as Lolth and had stolen the females away from the Masked Lord's worship. She'd taught them to exclude males from their circle, to subjugate and revile them instead."


While it makes sense for a Vhaeraunite to say something like that, just for information purpose, that sentence refers to the age that Elaine depicts in Evermeet: Island of Elves, when Eilistraee was wandering on Toril (she explains this to Sharlario and his son). The Dark Maiden tried to oppose Vhaeraun's and Ghaundaur's influence on the Ilythiiri (Lolth wasn't there yet), but she was weaker than them, and the Seldarine didn't support her; she lost, and both the goddess and most of her followers ended up as exiles from Ilythiir. According to Demihuman Deities, she only retained a very small follower base in that kingdom, while Vhaeraun and Ghaunadaur maintained most of it. Later, when the First Sundering hit (after Lolth turned her eyes to Toril), most of Vhaeraun's followers died in the cataclysm, allowing Lolth to start on a much better footing. In the lore, Vhaeraun blames Lolth's rise to influence on Eilistraee's efforts to oppose him.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 14 Aug 2018 03:23:21
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